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Gender Ministry can fine media outlets: PG Shameem

Lamya Abdulla
28 June 2021, MVT 15:03
Hussain Shameem: He posted a blog post today where he expressed his views on Gender Ministry fining media outlets
Lamya Abdulla
28 June 2021, MVT 15:03

Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem believes Gender Ministry can take action against media outlets if they publish content that harms the dignity of minors.

A 13 year old boy was found murdered in the sea in Hulhumale' last week. Some media had reported identifying information of the child in addition to family problems, and how the minor's body was found at the time of death.

Following such a coverage, Gender Ministry had reminded three outlets on the correct way to cover issues pertaining to minors in addition to fining Avas, an online newspaper 2,000 Rufiyaa.

This decision was criticized by many who had pointed out regulatory bodies such as Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Broadcasting Commission (BroadCom) had been established and taking such action against media outlets fell within their jurisdiction. It was also noted this sets a bad precedence in censoring media.

In his personal blog, PG Shameem posted an audio today where he said publishing identifying information of children was allowed and accepted before because there were no laws prohibiting it. However, since Juvenile Justice Act and Child Protection Act are now in affect, this is prohibited.

Article 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act states that maintaining the child's integrity has to be prioritized even when publishing information about a minor that had broken the law or committed a crime.

Shameem pointed out that Article 33 of the Child Protection Act prohibits publishing information about a minor that damages their dignity.

Furthermore, he stated that MMC's guideline on how to report on children's issues also prohibits publishing information that negatively affects how the child may be viewed.

Shameem said since the Gender Ministry is acting under a special law created for this very reason, when it comes to issues such as this, the ministry can take action against media.

He also noted the importance of raising awareness when it comes to such issues among journalists.

So far, the Child and Family Protection Agency has released statements at five different points this year outlining the importance of how to report child issues by media. Shameem states this is a problem that has been present in Maldives, and is not something that became a social issue with the recent murder.

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